I was super duper excited when Amazon announced that KDP authors could take advantage of the pre-order feature. As in squealing and cheering at my desk excited. And then I read the fine print, and of course, things aren’t always what the seem. What does this new option mean for self-pubbed authors? Well, let’s discuss it.
Pre-orders help authors garner sales in the period of time leading to the official release dates of their books. What’s great about this the actual sales aren’t counted until the book goes live. This means that with a lot of work and pre-release buzz, an author can increase his or her chances at hitting one of the major best seller lists like USA Today and New York Times. Already, self-published authors could set up pre-orders on iBooks and Kobo (and Barnes and Noble via an distributor), so when Amazon made the announcement that they were allowing all KDP authors (and not just those who either opted in to the Select/exclusivity program or ones with Amazon contacts), indies celebrated.
And here’s where the ‘but’ comes in. The pre-orders Amazon is offering for average indies is not the same as what you get on say ibooks (or even on Amazon if you still have that white-glove service contact) where you can upload up to a year in advance. Nope, this new pre-order for all self-published authors does have some limitations:
1. You only get three months of pre-orders (meaning you cannot create your product page when the release date is beyond that time period). This is NOT a long time for those of us who plan our books and releases well in advance. I’ve seen many traditional publishers make books available with six months or more in advance of the release date. It’s still not a level-playing field, even compared to some chosen indie authors.
2. You are limited to only 1o titles with the pre-order option at any given time. I assume most authors won’t have a problem with this; however, those of us who write quickly, do serials, manage multiple author projects, etc., it’ll be a game of marking your calendars and deciding which ones will be set for pre-orders and when. With proper planning, it’s doable.
I still think having the pre-order option is better than not having it at all. But for authors not used to utilizing this, it may not be an easy decision. Remember when I said all pre-order sales count on the date the book is officially released? Well, this is true for those major bestseller lists; however, this isn’t a goal for many. Why does this matter? Because your Amazon ranking is NOT bumped up on the release date with these sales. Think about it. Many authors count on their initial sales to get visibility, but if pre-orders don’t count toward that, then they are wasting their time accumulating them. Amazon ranks your book during the pre-order period as if a sale had actually occurred on any given day before it’s available to the public. When release day rolls around, the pre-orders are added to your reports and made available for the bean counters of the major lists, but that’s where it stops. On other retailers, their internal bestseller lists will see a spike in ranking, giving the author credit for those pre-orders and the added visibility. Not on Amazon. At least not as of this posting.
Amazon still has some steps to make to level the playing field among all indie authors, but this is definitely a step in the right direction.